Wrapped around a holy lake, and constantly heaving with Indian pilgrims who come to bathe in its waters, we were expecting a certain spiritual hum from Pushkar (which is the way it was described by Lonely Planet). For us, we found that the scammers were clever and sneaky, and are apparently good at getting tourists to pay enormous sums in their own currency (thankfully we didn’t fall for this one!) and that experiencing the ghats was more of an endless photo shoot with Indian pilgrims who seemed to be more interested in us than the lake. Fortunately, we found a quieter spot where we could spend time at the lake without too much attention, and we spent some nice hours painting there, as photography is not allowed on the ghats.
Photos by Ben Journee
Most of our time was spent cruising the markets, and we bought probably too much because of it. And perhaps the real highlight was finding a beautifully renovated haveli (mansion) that is now a boutique hotel and restaurant. The food was fantastic, and unlike anything we’d had before in India, and even better was the fact that we could enjoy the atmosphere without exceeding our budget!
We were also fortunate to stumble across the Ganesh festival, which had the tiny streets packed with decked out jeeps and trucks. Brass bands introduced trucks holding shrines to Ganesh, but were always followed by utes carrying monstrous speakers playing extremely loud and trashy dance music, loaded and surrounded with young, sweaty men dancing and generally going a bit crazy. It was a strange combination that got rowdier as the night got darker, and it was also somewhat revealing of a generational divide. The sweet young boys throwing flowers into the crowds were rather charming, and the streets littered with marigolds and pink petals were a beautiful trace of the festival.
We had a relaxing and enjoyable few days in Pushkar, but certainly didn’t feel the same spiritual energy that we so loved about Rishikesh. The lake just wasn’t quite the same as the river...